Six killed as Islamists attempt to seize Tripoli airport

Buildings and fuel tanks were set ablaze in the worst fighting since the 2011 revolution

Smoke rises near buildings after heavy fighting between rival militias broke out near the airport in Tripoli yesterday. Photograph: Reuters/ Hani Amara

Smoke rises near buildings after heavy fighting between rival militias broke out near the airport in Tripoli yesterday. Photograph: Reuters/ Hani Amara

Mon, Jul 14, 2014, 01:00

Islamist-led militias launched an attack on Tripoli’s international airport yesterday against units allied to Khalifa Haftar, the former general who has vowed to defeat the jihadis.

Buildings and fuel tanks were set ablaze by artillery, rocket and anti-aircraft fire in the worst fighting seen in the Libyan capital since the 2011 revolution.

Thick plumes of smoke rose into the sky and staff and passengers huddled for safety inside airport buildings as battles left at least six dead and 25 wounded.

TV footage showed vehicles on fire after rockets struck the car park. Smoke swirled around planes abandoned on the tarmac. All flights to and from the airport have been cancelled.

The airport is held by militias from the mountain town of Zintan, allied with Haftar, whose forces, backed by sections of the air force, have been battling Islamist brigades in eastern Libya for several weeks.

The attack marks a significant widening of the struggle between Haftar and his opponents. – (Guardian service)